Breed Profile: Puli

Often referred to as a “mop” dog for its dread-like cords, the Puli is an active dog with herding instincts. Read more in our breed profile.

The Puli is often referred to as a mop dog for its dread-like cords. By: Puliarf/Flickr

Breed

Puli

Group

Herding

Physical Description

The Puli (plural: pulik) is a compact, agile dog able to perform work in almost any area and climate and is humorously referred to as a “mop” dog. This breed averages in height from 14 to 18 inches, with males weighing between 25 and 35 pounds and females weighing 20 to 30 pounds. The dogs have one of the most unique coats among dogs; their double coat is weather-resistant and wavy, and clumps together in cords naturally. They have tight, curly tails and range in colors of black, grey and white. Their average life span is 12 to 16 years.

Origin

Pulik were originally herding dogs that controlled the movements of sheep. They arrived in Hungary more than 1,000 years ago with the Magyar people, who had migrated from Asia. The dogs were used for different purposes based on their color; sheep took more direction from dark-haired dogs, while the lighter-colored dogs were used for guarding the flock.

The dogs almost became extinct in the 16th century, when Hungary was almost destroyed by invaders. The Puli prevailed and later mixed with sheepdogs from other countries. In 1912 a specialized breeding program was started to preserve and reconstitute the breed. The Puli was recognized by the AKC in 1936, and the Puli Club of America was formed in 1951.

Purpose

The Puli was originally used for herding sheep. Today the roles include companion pet, competition show dog and therapy dog, and Pulis participate in agility, herding, obedience and tracking arenas.

The video below shows an excited Puli named Shmuley having his daily walk in Central Park. You can see that Shmuley is definitely energetic and uses his herding ability to constantly urge his owner to catch up to him.

Temperament

Pulik are alert and active dogs with a lot of energy. They can become destructive if bored, so they need daily walks and playtime to expel energy. They are good watch dogs and are loyal, but they do not like being left alone for long periods of time. They are usually good with children who do not tease or antagonize unnecessarily, and they are easy to train. Some owners describe these dogs as smart and sneaky. Their intelligence should not be underestimated, and consistent training is needed. Frequent barking is possible.

Exercise Needs

Puli dogs need regular exercise daily, such as walks or indoor play. They are usually active indoors and will do fine without a backyard. Some of them have an affinity for swimming, but not all Pulik are guaranteed to share this trait.

Grooming Requirements

Grooming a Puli can be a job in itself, but once a routine is established it will be easy to maintain. The coat doesn’t shed much, but it should be checked for debris. The dogs must be brushed daily and bathed when needed. After bathing, the dogs need to be dried; otherwise their thick coats take two days to fully dry. Regular grooming should also be followed, including cleaning the ears and teeth, trimming the nails, and checking regularly for mats.

Separating the cords is recommended after each bathing. This is easier to do when the dog is wet, and this video provides an example:

Common Health Problems

Pulik do not have any notable health problems other than hip dysplasia and potential eye problems. All other problems are consistent with possible conditions for any dog.

Is the Puli the Right Dog for You?

Pulik do not need a backyard, can live in any climate or area and are easy to train. They are good with families and are excellent watch dogs. They are active and need regular exercise, and you will get a workout of your own with their daily brushing and grooming. If you want a compact dog with spunk and don’t mind the brushing, consider getting a Puli as your next pet.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Puli for your next pet, check adoption resources first. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. You can use Petful’s adoption page.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has been researching and writing about pet behaviors and care for many years, with her articles appearing in various publications. She is the CEO of a large mental health practice in Louisiana and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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